Earlier this month, NZL Sailing Team with Emirates Team New Zealand won the first Red Bull Youth America's Cup. The race kicked off the final rounds of the 34th America's Cup, which was hosted in San Francisco, and featured Emirates Team New Zealand squaring off with defending champ, Oracle Team USA.
The competition ended yesterday with a stunning come-from-behind victory by the Americans.
Team USA began with -2 points, which was part of the harshest penalty ever handed out in the 162-year history of the race. It was given the penalty because an international jury ruled that the team had illegally modified prototype boats it used in warm-up races in 2012 and 2013. The first team to win nine races wins the America's Cup. So it seemed like Team USA lost before even getting started.
After the first 11 rounds, New Zealand held an 8-1 lead and a clear path to the Cup. But the Americans roared back to win the next seven races to set up a winner-take-all Round 19. It was the Super Bowl of sailing, and it didn't disappoint. New Zealand jumped out to an early lead, but Team USA built up speed and cruised past their opponents in the home stretch.
“It was a fantastic race. We wouldn’t have it any other way,” American skipper and now two-time Cup winner Jimmy Spithill said. “We came from behind, the guys showed so much heart. On your own you’re nothing, but a team like this can make you look great."
Check out this video recap of how great Team USA looked in claiming the 34th America's Cup:
It's not all celebrations of Team USA, though. It did get caught cheating, and no one knows how that will impact future races. And as back-to-back champs, every other country with a Cup team will be working extra hard to take the wind out of the American's sails in the 35th Americas' Cup.
But for now, Oracle Team USA is enjoying being on the winning end of one of the most epic comebacks in sports history.
Photo: Abner Kingman/Americas Cup (top), Gilles Martin-Raget/America's Cup (bottom)